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Full text of "Leon Kroll: December 1-19, 1937."

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by John J. O'Connor, Jr. 

Duncan Phillips, in a series of three articles 
in the American Magazine of Art for Febru- 
ary, March, and April, 1935, indicates that he is 
an advocate of free speech in art. He holds that 
art is a language of personality, and if personality 
be suppressed, then it follows that art will be 
suppressed also. 

Naturally, in any discussion of personality in 
art, there is a great temptation to emphasize and to 
stress innovation as its quintessence. While innova- 
tion does project itself in any discussion of per- 
sonality, it should be granted at once that there are 
artists of very definite and intense individuality who 
are not necessarily innovators. Such artists convey 
their personality in a language which their audience 
understands; and because they do not depend on 
innovation but on a fundamental grasp of their 
craft they may truly be superior to those who do. 

Leon Kroll, who has an exhibition of his 
representative canvases at the Worcester Art 
Museum, may well be included among artists of 
personality who do not depend on novelty for 
acclaim. He uses technical means. which are com- 
prehended by his public, even when that public "is 
made up of free and outgiving individuals with 
richly differentiated sensibilities and reactions to 
their environment." 

Leon Kroll was trained in a great tradition. His 
first teacher was John H. Twachtman, who in his 
day had studied under Frank Duveneck. Twacht- 
man certainly possessed personality in art, as his 
canvas "River in Winter" in the Carnegie Institute 
bears ample testimony. Twachtman was saturated 
with the theory of pictorial design and undoubtedly 
passed the idea on to his students. Design with 
Twachtman, as with Kroll, was never mechani- 
cal, but always bore the touch of his particular 

What Royal Cortissoz said of Twachtman is 
also true of his pupil, Leon Kroll, for he has "the 
faculty of making a good picture according to an 
old recipe, but with the touch of his own giving it 
freshness and charm." This is another way of 
expressing the fact that Leon Kroll exercises free 

speech within the bounds of reason and with due 
respect for the opinions of mankind. This is the 
humanistic view of the art of painting. 

After studying at the National Academy, Leon 
Kroll went abroad to enter the atelier of Jean Paul 
Laurens. Here again he was taught to paint under a 
great tradition with a master who inculcated a 
sound conception of technique before he permitted 
his pupils to express that quality of personality 
which is so necessary to prevent technique from 
becoming mere dexterity. 

He holds that the design element in a work of art 
is its most important and lasting quality. His 
studies of the art of the past have convinced him that 
the outstanding works are those which obey the 
law of design based upon principles in nature. This 
emphasis upon design is not always evident on a 
superficial view of his canvases because, properly, 
his design is at times very subtle. He successfully 
avoids academic formality in design. Observe 
in the canvas, "Provencal Landscape," the sim- 
plicity of design, and then in "Central Park" how 
carefully it works its way all through a complex 
composition by means of winding roads. Consider 
the design in the large canvas entitled "Summer, 
New York." This picture is not only organized on 
a grand scale, but on studying it, one will also find 
exquisite design in the nude figure in the foreground. 
This leads to the observation that in his nudes 
Kroll delights in so posing and arranging them as 
to bring out the intricate and pleasing forms that 
the human body offers. These may be studied in 
the paintings, "Babette," and "Seated Nude," in the 
present exhibition. 

The element of order carried into every section 
of his canvases is so necessary to an understanding 
of Leon Kroll's paintings that his idea of it should 
be quoted. He says: "When I speak of design in a 
canvas, I mean a fine organization of areas and 
shapes, a just balance of round and straight forms, 
intelligent use of horizontal, vertical, and diagonal 
directions, a sense of the influence of three-dimen- 
sional form on two-dimensional pattern. All 
planned to include within allotted areas the forms 

of representation the artist intends to have in his Leon Kroll looks out on his world and finds that 

picture." it is good. He translates his vision of it to canvases 

Leon Kroll has a happy faculty for handling that have vitality and opulence For him life is full, 

figures in landscapes. He gives them a harmonious sensuous - and wholesome and he is successful in 

and natural place in the rhythm to which he is so ^parting this to others. While many of his fellow 

sensitive. At this point it should be mentioned a , msts in , th , ese ^f P lace b , efore us scenes ° f a ™ oAd 

that Leon Kroll invariably places figures in his that IS d , rab ' desolate - and retrogressive, he shows 

compositions. He explains this by saying that he "f one , that 1S ser f, ne - abundant and harmonious, 

prefers painting a landscape which has been loved H , e behev f s > as »" artists do > ch at he should be 

and touched by the human hand and body. Note selectlve ; buc in h / s siftin f be r ^ ,irns again and 

how the single figure is so appropriately placed in a § ain to tbo f e sub J ec " T which , refle « a beneficent 

the canvas, "Figure Against the Sea" or in "Seine and boui * ltul nature His is altogether a- vital art. 

at Courbevoie." — Reprinted through the courtesy of the 

Carnegie Magazine 

Attention should be directed to the treatment of 

the reclining figures in the painting, "Sleep." In the * * * 

hands of a less accomplished artist this subject _„ ,„„„„ . . .„ T ,^^,^^^ ^ r. 

might have been very sentimental and banal, but c AWARDS AND HONORS. Porter Prize, 

here, by a poetic and extremely sensitive treatment Salmagundi Club (1912); Bronze Medal, Panama- 

of the whole composition, he creates an atmosphere ? * cl{ } c Exposition (1914); Honorable Mention 

of repose and quietude which envelops the entire Av ] L nStltUt A e of Chica g° (1919); First Logan Medal 

canvas and lifts it to a high degree of excellence. * nd £ riz f' A * Instit " te of Chicago (1919), Thomas 

B. Clarke Prize, National Academy or Design 

Leon Kroll likes to quote a phrase of Poussin, (1921); First Altman Prize, National Academy of 

"Neglecting nothing!" It is a watchword for him, Design (1922); First Prize, Society of Fine Arts, 

for no element that goes into the making of his Wilmington, Delaware (1922); Potter Palmer 

picture is slighted. Each small division of the Gold Medal and First Prize, Art Institute of 

painting is carefully studied and is made to do its Chicago (1924); Honorable Mention, International 

part in the organization of the whole. He en- Exhibition, Carnegie Institute (1925); Temple 

deavors to include in the canvas every possible Gold Medal, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine 

quality which can be made into a beautiful design. Arts (1927); First Prize, Newport, Rhode Island 

Consider the care with which each square inch of (1929); Gregg Memorial Prize, National Arts 

the large canvas "My Wife's Family" is planned, Club (1930); Purchase Prize, Indianapolis (1930); 

and the infinite study that is given to even the First Medal, Boston Art Club (1930); Beck Gold 

smallest detail of the picture. Another example of Medal, Pennsylania Academy of the Fine Arts 

this may be found in the painting "In the Country," (1930); Baltimore Museum Prize for best picture, 

which has added value in that it depicts George Pan-American Exhibition (1931); First Altman 

Bellows, of Blessed Memory, and his family in the Prize, National Academy of Design (1932); First 

garden of their summer cottage. Here again no Altman Prize, National Academy of Design (1935) 

detail is neglected, and yet each carefully worked First Prize, International Exhibition, Carnegie 

out feature of form and substance is integrated to Institute (1936). 
make a picture of great charm and loveliness. 

There are no careless passages in Kroll's paintings. * * * 

One of the elements that lends to the artist's THE WORK OF LEON KROLL is repre- 

distinction is his effective use of color. His palette sented in the following public collections : Baltimore 

is never monotonous or repetitious. There is a Museum of Art, Art Institute of Chicago, Dayton 

richness and splendor about it which give zest to all Art Institute, Denver Art Museum, Des Moines 

his work. Consider the canvases "The Road from Association of Fine Arts, Detroit Institute of Arts, 

the Cove" and "Morning on the Cape." In both, John Herron Art Institute, University of Nebraska 

the color quality of the upturned earth is such that Art Association, Los Angeles Museum, Metropoli- 

you are made to feel that its fertility will yield in tan Museum of Art, Cleveland Museum of Art, 

abundance until time is no more. Think of the Municipal University of Omaha, Nebraska, Penn- 

distinction in color that adds so much to that sylvania Academv of the Fine Arts, Carnegie 

beautifully designed canvas "Young Women." The Institute, Pittsburgh, University of Illinois, City 

color scheme of "Anne in Blue" is particularly Art Museum of St. Louis, and Whitney Museum of 

effective. American Art. 

.See in, 1 /at Ctitiilitfi of Paintings 


1 In nu: Country. 1915 

Lent by the Detroit Institute of Arts 

2 Still Life. 1915 

/ ent by the artist 

3 Two Rivers. 1917 

Lent by Miss Etta Cone 

4 Leo Ornstein at the Piano. 1917 

Lent by The Art Institute of Chicago 

5 Cheyenne Mountain. 1917 

Lent by the artist 

6 Central Park. 1921 

Lent by Ralph Pulitzer, Esq. 

7 Sleep. 1921 

Lent by the City Art Museum, St. Louis 

8 The Park, Winter. 1922 

Lent by the Cleveland Museum of Art 

9 Young Women. 1924 

Lent by Carl Weeks, Esq. 

10 My Wife's Family. 1925 

Lent by the artist 

11 Mary at Breakfast. 1925 

Lent by Julius H. Weitzner, Esq. 

12 Nita Reading. 1925 

Lent by The Metropolitan Museum of Art 

13 Fruit Against the Sea. 1925 

Lent by Qeorge Bloiv, Esq. 

14 The Seine at Courbevoie. 1926 

Lent by Miss Esther Williams and Thomas 
Williams, Esq. 

15 Provenqal Landscape. 1927 

Lent by the University of Illinois 

16 Marie Claude Juliette at Two Weeks. 1929 

Lent by the artist 

17 Nude, Babette. 1930 

Lent by the Whitney Museum of American 

18 Head of a Girl. 1930 

Lent by John T. Spaulding, Esq. 

19 Barbara. 1930 

Lent by the artist 

20 Folly Cove. 1930 

Lent by the artist 
20A Portrait of Louisa Munroe. 1936 

Lent by Vernon Munroe, Esq. _i_ 

21 Summer — New York. 1931 
Lent by the artist 

22 Babette, Head. 1932 
Lent by the artist 

23 Anne in Blue. 1933 
Lent by the Milch Qalleries 

24 Seated Nude. 1933 
Lent by the Milch Qalleries 

25 From a Balcony. 1934 
Lent by Aldus C Higgins, Esq. 

26 Pauline Manship. 1934 
Lent by Paul Manship, Esq. 

27 Morning on the Cape. 1935 
Lent by the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh 

28 Carolyn. 1935 
Lent by the Milch Qalleries 

29 The Road from the Cove. 1936 
Sketch for the painting reproduced on the 
cover of this catalog. Lent by the Milch 

30 Figure Against the Sea. 1937 
Lent by the artist 

31 Figure in a Yellow Chair. 1937 
Lent by the artist 

Group of oil sketches and drawings for the 
murals in the Attorney General's Reception Room, 
Department of Justice, Washington, D. C. : 

32 The Triumph of Justice. Oil. 1935-6 
Lent by the Bureau of Painting and Sculp- 
ture, Procurement Division, United States 

33 The Defeat of Justice. Oil. 1935-6 
Lent by the Bureau of Painting and Sculp- 
ture, Procurement Division, United States 

34 Mr. Justice Stone. Drawing. 1935-6 
Lent by Edward Bruce, Esq. 

35 Two Drawings. 1935-6 
Lent by Miss Etta Cone 

36 Six Drawings. 1935-6 
Lent by the artist 

Paintings by leon kroll ... December i-ig, 1937